Mike and I attended the ribbon cutting for our new Hocking Hills State Park Lodge last Saturday. It was a beautiful autumn day in the Hocking Hills, with the leaves beginning to turn reds and oranges, and as we drove up, we couldn’t believe just how spectacular the new lodge looked!
It has been more than 30 years since Ohio built a new lodge at one of our state parks. After the very popular dining lodge in Hocking Hills State Park burned down in 2016, a new lodge was designed to take its place. The new lodge sits where the old dining lodge once stood. The tall three-story grand lobby that welcomes visitors features beautiful and rustic heavy timbers and exposed wood beams. Magnificent windows brighten the room with beautiful views in every direction. Grand twin 39-foot tall limestone fireplaces, studded with special stones containing fossils, highlight the room. On some of the walls there are heavy slabs of different types of wood, all from our other state parks. There are lovely Ohio art and craft items displayed. A naturalist was on hand while we were there, with a display of animal skins from many of our local animals for identification — always a favorite with the kids. We enjoyed the music of the local ensemble that was playing. We smelled and tasted the apple beignets, rolled in cinnamon sugar. The bar and dining room, located right off the great room, looked very inviting. I also heard the news that the old lodge’s executive chef Matt Rapposelli is returning.
Next we walked out back to the Forest Pavilion — a large patio overlooking the gorge. A family bluegrass band—The Sugar Creek Bluegrass Band — was playing great music on the pergola, which Mike loved! From the patio you can take one of the trailheads to Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls and Whispering Cave. You can also walk to a link to the Buckeye Trail.
There is a beautiful indoor pool and jacuzzi, and an outdoor pool with an all-weather jacuzzi. We toured some of the lovely rooms, including some adjoining rooms for families. There are nooks in some of the areas for ping-pong and other family games. There’s also a large, dividable ball room.
Before I left I peeked into the beautiful little gift shop in the lobby. I bought a fun T-shirt for our grandson Parker who was with us. I couldn’t resist buying a little hand-blown glass pumpkin created by local artist Jack Pine to remember our day.
I can’t wait to go back and stay with our family!
Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.